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Reisverslag My two weeks vacation in 1 story
23 juli 2015
My two weeks vacation in 1 story
This is going to be a very long story, so be prepared!!
On the morning of the 4th of July I left the ship in Amsterdam around 6am to take the train to Schiphol Airport. I was going to London!!!
My flight was around 8:40 am and as I was waiting for people to get off of the Easyjet plane that was going to take me to London, our Executive Chef walked right by! He was coming back from his vacation, while I was going to start mine, that was pretty funny!
Everything went according to plan, I had already pre-booked a bus to take me to center of the city. I was on time and waiting for the bus, when I found out I was waiting at the wrong bus stop…and when I found the right one, the lady that was there to handle all the passengers wouldn’t let me on the bus. According to her it wouldn’t be fair to the people getting on the bus…
But there’s a system to this all and she clearly didn’t get that! What it is, is that you book a seat on a bus for a certain time, anyone that just arrives at the airport and wants to get on that bus, has to wait until all the people that have pre-booked this time are on it. Ok, yes I was not at the appointed bus stop 10 minutes before the time it would leave, but still I was there and she could’ve let all the other people wait.
Because now I got on the 10 am bus, which means that everyone moves down one bus if there’s not enough seats available…anyway, it keeps her off the street!
For me it didn’t matter I was on vacation, being in the city half an hour later wasn’t going to harm me. The weather was nice, so I was fine.
I was on Baker Street around 11 am and then it took me about 20 minutes to half an hour to walk to Drummond Street. There’s a student dorm called Schafer House, where I had booked a dormroom. All the students are out for the summer, so the University College of London rents out the rooms.
I was in flat B, 5th floor, house 4 and room 2…I had to have that repeated to me, before I got where I was supposed to go! I got there quicker than I thought! It’s actually kind of nice, it has a front door you can lock and then there’s two rooms and a bathroom. First I took out all my stuff from the suitcase, sat on the bed for a while to catch my breath and then I went to the nearest supermarket to get some lunch.
Schafer House was almost next to St. Regent’s Park, since it was a very hot day, I took my lunch to the park, went in at one of the many entrances and sat down at the first shady spot I could find to eat!!
I ate my lunch, read my book for a while and then had a little stroll through the park, which turned out to be huge! There’s also a zoo in there, but I didn’t manage to go there. I got soo tired after eating and walking, I had to get back to my room where I took a two hour nap!! Then later for dinner I went to the nearest McDonalds I could find. Ok I know you can find them anywhere, but I was too tired to look for anything else and this was something I knew, so it was good for me! I walked around the area for a while and went straight back to the room, where I passed out again around 8:30pm!
After dinner when I came back to Schafer House I asked at the reception where I could find the kitchen for my room. I had looked around on the 5th floor of my flat, but I couldn’t find it. I was told it was supposed to be right there in my house, across from the bathroom… Ok so when I checked later, yes sir, there it was! I looked around on the 5th floor earlier and I couldn’t find it, thinking it would be one big kitchen for the entire floor, like in a hostel. But no, each house has its own kitchen! All the doors are firedoors and there are warnings on them that you should keep them closed, so I hadn’t tried the one for the kitchen yet!
It’s really pretty neat actually! It is small, but it has a sink, stove with grill and oven, cabinets with two pieces of everything (plates, bowls, glasses, mugs) and cutlery. There was a microwave, water boiler and a toaster. And there were two high chairs so you could eat in there if you wanted to.
So I had bought some cinnamon raising bagels and cream cheese, I had a great breakfast every morning!!
Sunday started out as a rainy day, I was up early, because I had gone to bed pretty early and the bed took a little getting used to! It had one of those old spring mattresses I don’t think anybody uses anymore!! Man, I was as stiff as a board waking up from that!
Anyway, since it was raining I took my time with breakfast and getting ready to go out. I think I left the room around 10 am. Before I left I had done a little research online and I found a BubbaGump restaurant in London. As Monday was my birthday I had asked Caroline, who was going to be in London also to give a concert with the Youth Orchestra she’s playing in, to have dinner there that day. She agreed to go, so I thought it would be a good idea to make a reservation on Sunday.
Well, I don’t know what I did, but I never managed to find that restaurant!! I was just lost for some reason. But while wandering around I found so many other nice places to eat, that I had send Caroline a message saying I wasn’t going to make a reservation, that we would see where we would end up the next day.
They do have little maps on most corners in the city, which show you where you are and what is around you in a 5 minute radius, but for some reason that didn’t help. O well, it did get me to the National Portrait Gallery, where I really wanted to go! I had some lunch there, walked around on the Tudor/Stuart and Victorian/Edwardian floor and saw lots of familiar faces! I read a lot of books about history and most of them have pictures of the portraits in there, so I knew most of them. I also saw some names that were familiar, but not the faces, so that gave me a reason to start reading about them soon! It took some time to go through all of these floors, which was fine, because I had all day!
After the gallery, I went to St.Martin in the Field, a church opposite the gallery. Which was pretty big and very nice inside! The window behind the altar is pretty interesting. It’s big and it doesn’t have the traditional stained glass in it that you find in most churches. This window has plain glass and wire in it, in the middle the wire spreads out, almost like a cannonball has gone through it. But upon closer inspection it is a big cross. Kind of hard to explain to people who haven’t seen it, but just go there when you are in London and you’ll know what I mean!
I ended up having a pizza at Pizza Hut on the Strand. Kind of got the willies while I was eating there, don’t know where that came from, but I wanted to leave…just as I was thinking about leaving, it started to rain, so the decision had been made for me! I finished my pizza and left when it stopped raining and I was good and ready to go!
Monday was my birthday and it started at 7am…which I think also happened 40 years ago! Haha
Too bad the weather wasn’t the same as it was 40 years ago, there was a heatwave in Amsterdam at the time, but today in London it was windy and actually kind of cold! I was wearing a skirt and t-shirt, when I went back to the room to get my coat! As I rounded a corner, the wind was really in my face, so I had to go back and get something warmer!
I was going to meet Caroline at the Southwark Cathedral in the afternoon, so I decided to start early and walk there. On the way I had some tea and a piece of pie to celebrate my birthday of course! I walked down Charing Cross Road, then up The Strand to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had never been in this part of London before and it was great!! So much history in these streets, it’s unbelievable! Then I crossed the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern, which is a museum that I didn’t go to. Sorry don’t really care for modern art. I walked passed the Globe Theater, where they say Shakespeare has played in his pieces, but they don’t know for sure where the real Globe Theater stood in his days. So basically this is just a tourist trap!
Before I came to London I had done some research and found some things I could do for free. Among that was Whitehall Palace, but when I looked on the map I thought it would be too far away to go and see it.
While I was on my way to Southwark Cathedral, I happened to walk right by it! It used to be a palace for when one of the bishops would come to London and needed a place to stay. There’s nothing much left, just the basement and the wall with what’s left of a Rose window, but there’s a picture of what it must have looked like in front. So you can get a good idea of the place.
I was at the cathedral at about 1pm I think, which means it had taken me almost 3 hours to get from Drummond Street to the cathedral! Which was fine with me I just took my time, I was in no hurry!
Next to the cathedral was a market where you could buy all kinds of food and even though I was hungry, I didn’t buy anything at the market. The smells coming from those stalls were just too much for me! Plus by that time I also had to make a pitstop so to speak, so I went to a Pret-a-Manger to have some lunch and read my book.
The concert started at 3pm, Caroline played Happy Birthday for me on her violin! The cathedral was nice and big, I saw Shakespeare’s grave. The concert was for free and anyone who happened to walk by and heard them play came in to listen to them.
It was really good, there were a lot of people there! After the concert, Caroline and I went to find her favorite Starbucks, which is near the Tower Bridge. It’s funny, when you come down from the bridge, there’s Starbucks right there, which is very busy. Then when you keep walking, you stumble upon a docking place for yachts and there’s another Starbucks! The place is shaped like Jefferson’s Memorial in Washington DC, looked very familiar to me!
Ok, so ordering there didn’t go very well. I asked if they had any green tea, the guy behind the counter said they had, so I asked for one and a coffee for Caroline. I gave him my name, which definitely is not the hardest in the world, but he managed to screw up my order and misspell my name!!
Instead of one green tea, I got 2 Earl Grey teas…so they asked me if I wanted a refund for the one tea, I said yes, I asked for one, why would I want to drink two?! It was then I realized I didn’t have green tea, so I took out the teabag and poured in some milk otherwise I wouldn’t be able to drink it!
Anyway, later we found out that the guy was French…that explained it!
It was nice and quiet and we got a major sunburn from sitting there! After this break we walked back to the cathedral to look for an English Pub Caroline where had had lunch with Eddie once. When we were almost there she wasn’t sure if the place she was looking for was going to be there, so I told her I saw a lot of places we could eat when I walked up there.
And then… we happened to find the place we were looking for right there! It was an English Pub called The Anchor and we had a plate of fish and chips we could share, it was really good!
Then we walked around looking for a place to have a drink. Couldn’t really find anything, so we walked back to St. Paul’s to have a drink in the street there. We ended up in All Bar One, which was actually a winebar, but they also had coffee and tea. Going to the bathroom was interesting there…you had to go down a good long flight of steps to get there…not a very smart thing in a winebar or any bar for that matter!! There were some people already having “a good time” as they say, only they were being loud and annoying for the rest of us!
Afterwards we took the subway back to our rooms, Caroline had to go way out of the city, where the O2 stadium is and I was only 3 stops away, but we both had to pay 5 pounds!! That was really strange and expensive!
Tuesday was another windy day! This time I took Gower Street down to the city. Which was a nice street, it looked like there were regular houses, but when I walked passed they all had signs above the door that they were hotels! Nothing else would tell you that there was a hotel, maybe they’re not allowed to put up signs outside the door or something. Anyway, again lots of history! On the houses where someone “important” has been born, lived or died, they have these blue shields to tell you who it was, when they were there and what they did. I like that very much, don’t know all of those people, but it’s nice to read some extra information.
I walked all the way down to Oxford Street, which I then walked down all the way to the end, where I went into Selfridges. In the Netherlands we had a tv-series for a while called Mr.Selfridge, about the man who build this department store and of course I had to go and see the real thing!
Well, the only thing that was still original was the building itself, the outside of the building of course. The main entrance with the big awning above it with a clock and big statues and the revolving doors. Then inside the only thing still from that period was the woodcarving above the revolving doors.
The rest was very modern and was basically as any department store, you walk into a cloud of perfume and make up before you go into the actual store, which I think is awful!
I only stopped to look at their paper department, the books (of course) and the little supermarket. I was only there for about an hour, I know because the big clock chimed 11 when I went in and 12 when I walked out. Couldn’t stay in there any longer, it was just too big! The real Mr. Selfridge didn’t fair very well in his day, he ended up having to sell the store and died in poverty. But the one thing he did manage to keep alive is that people would have to be able to buy whatever they would want and yes, the store is full of things you could possibly want to buy.
Then I had some lunch and looked at my map to see where I was going to go next. I decided to walk down Park Lane to Piccadilly. Park Lane is right next to Hyde Park, hence the name and it is a very expensive or “upscale” street. Lots of expensive car stores, you know Bentley, Aston Martin, lots of expensive apartments and hotels. Then Piccadilly looked like it was also pretty expensive, but not everything was like that!
I found the Fortnum & Mason store there, which looked exactly like it was when they first opened it I think. Green carpet, polished wooden shelves, gentlemen in Penguin tales jackets, glittering chandeliers and gold statues, soft classical music playing in the background…definitely more my style.
I was amazed that a store could still have that look in this day and age, but it seems to still work, because it was pretty busy!
Then I walked up Regent Street to back to my room, I had had enough walking for the day! I bought something to eat at the supermarket, went back to the room, took a nap, had my dinner and around 6:30pm I was walking yet again….
This time I walked further north to go to the top of St. Regent’s Park to go to St. Marks Church, where Caroline was giving her second and final concert for this trip to England. (they had started the trip in Canterbury on Saturday and they were going home on Thursday)
This was definitely a church and a lot different than the cathedral from the day before! Not only a difference in size, but also the inside of the church was a lot plainer than the cathedral. Hardly any stained glass windows and uncomfortable chairs, but then again I think they do that on purpose in every church to make sure people repent if they have to!!
Anyway, unfortunately the orchestra was also placed in the wrong part of the church, at the back near the entrance, instead of in the front with the altar. So it looked like they hardly had any room to move freely. The church was also smaller, which made the concert sound different too.
It also looked like no one knew they were going to play there, because hardly any people came to listen. Some people came in when they heard them play, but the audience were mostly friends and family of the members of the orchestra. O well, they played very well and the songs they played were different from the day before.
After the concert we went for a drink in a nearby pub and I was back in my room around 11:30pm. That was another good day!
On Wednesday I went to the Westminster Abby. I have been to London two times before and I have seen the Abby both times, but I have never been inside before. Fortunately I have seen it before, because the two tower were covered for reconstruction and the pictures would have been very bad!
Now the entrance fee for the Abby is pretty steep, but once you step inside and see what they have to maintain and realize the fact that they don’t get any money from the state or the church, it is money well spend!
When I came in, someone asked me what language I spoke and when I told him Dutch, he did say Goedemorgen (Good Morning), but then had to inform me that they didn’t have a headset with that language. Which was fine with me, I got one with an English narration, which was done by the actor Jeremy Irons (Scar in the Lion King and Simon in a Die Hard movie). Who happens to have a voice I could listen to all day, but that’s my personal opinion!
I had a map which pointed out the various things that were going to be mentioned in the narration, which you could listen to whenever you wanted to. So when you were done with # 1, it would stop and you could press # 2 whenever you were ready. Which was kind of nice, with an ongoing narration you wouldn’t always see what they’re talking about. Basically the Abby is a graveyard, to say it bluntly. So many people have been buried there since it’s consecration in 1066, that it is now completely full, there is just no space for another tomb or memorial plaque!
And you do have to know little bit of what to look for or you’ll miss it. I was reading a book about Darwin and I knew he was buried in the Abby, it was a good thing that I looked up when I did, so I saw his grave, otherwise I would’ve missed it. Like I missed Newton’s grave. When you go from the nave into the quir, where the choir is during a service, there two ways to go around the font. I chose the right side, because there were a lot of people standing on the left side….it wasn’t until I was already in the shop that I realized it was so busy there, because it was Newton’s grave they were looking at…..
O well, I saw the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary I, Mary Queen of Scots and numerous other Kings and Queens. Then there was Poet’s Corner, which held the graves of Chaucer, Tennyson, Händel and memorials for Jane Austen and the Brönte sisters, among many others.
But still, as I left I had the feeling I hadn’t seen all of it, so I will definitely go back when I’m in London again!
When I left the Abby I walked past St. James’s Park, which gave off a terrible smell!! Probably because there was a duck pond and it had been raining minutes before I went out, but I was glad to have passed it!
I found myself in Pall Mall, in a Pret-a-Manger where I had lunch with my mom when I was in London with her. After this lunch I went to a bookstore called Foyles, which was the only big bookstore in the neighbourhood, but I was sure there was another one when I was there before.
No matter, I sat in the café with a pot of tea and strawberry tart and just wrote some more in my diary. It was raining again, so it was good to be inside. After a while I got up and spend some time in a great store called Paper Chase, where they had all kinds of diaries and paper to look at, before going back to my room to pack my suitcase.
One of the setbacks of traveling with a lowcost airline is that you can’t bring more than one piece of luggage or you will have to check it in and pay for it. So I wasn’t able to buy many books or diaries on this trip…not that I really needed any, because I still have stacks of books to read at home, plus I can get them cheaper online, they will be shipped to the house and I won’t have to carry them with me!
So Thursday was my last day in London. Check out time was at 10am, but I left at 9:30am. Had my last tea at a Pret-a-Manger near Schafer House before I walked over to where the bus was going to pick me up and bring me to the airport.
My dad had warned me about there being a strike among the subway personnel and I thought I have been smart in also pre-booking the bus back to the airport before I left…turned out to be very exciting!
The booking said to be at the bus stop 10 minutes before and I was there well before that time. I had booked the bus for 12:45am, because you had to be at the airport 2 hours before departure, the trip would take an hour, my flight left at 4:20pm, so that would give me plenty of time…
But because of the strike, lots of people came into the city by car, which caused major traffic jams, which means the busses couldn’t get to us on time. As all seats are booked for a certain time, they could take anyone on any of the other times, because that would mean they would have to leave people behind.
After waiting for at least an hour already, a couple decided they were going to take taxi, I was going with them and we would split the cost. Than just as we were getting in the taxi, our bus showed up, so we got on the bus instead. Which saved us quit some money, because it can be pretty expensive.
We left at 2pm and we got to the airport at 3pm, which made me run like hell to get through security. Luckily I had only hand luggage, so I didn’t have to stand in line to check in my suitcase. Unfortunately you still have to keep your liquids in plastic bags separate, don’t ask me why they still do this. But anyway, I had about 10 small containers in one big Ziploc bag, because that was all I had. At the Schiphol airport everything was fine, but of course not here in the UK!!! The girl actually measured my bag against a printout/clipboard she had and told me that the bag was too big, it had to be 20 x 20 cm or inches I don’t know……
I’m sorry, but that pissed me off no end!!! This was the second time I flew in and out of the UK and the second time my liquids didn’t cause any problems at Schiphol going into the UK, but going back home there was a problem! Unbelievable!! And of course they didn’t have smaller bags available, you had to buy them! There was a gumball machine like thing where you could buy them for a 1 pound coin, which I luckily hadn’t given away yet, thinking I wouldn’t need it anymore! That was my last British cash, fortunately!!
So I had to put all my stuff into the two smaller bags, at least I got two bags for my one pound! But of course that is not where this story ends….as everything came out on the other side, my suitcase came back to me and the rest went to the other side, where I couldn’t get to it!
The guy working there was in the middle of getting someone who had either never flown before or was deaf to all announcements that you have to put your liquids separate, to part with his liquids, which of course took a while!
When the guy finally took out my stuff, he said he had to take a test….a test??? What he put a dipstick into my bottle of shampoo, I could’ve told him what was in there and we would be done a lot quicker!!!
Ok, so then I was finally in the hall….and I still had 10 minutes to wait before they even told me what gate I had to go to!!!! Can you believe it??? They tell you to be there 2 hours before, on this tiny airport with nothing to do, so I hurry up to get there and then I still have 10 minutes, because I don’t know what gate to go to yet……
O well, at least I wasn’t there for 2 hours, like I had planned! The plane left and arrived at Schiphol on time, so it all worked out in the end!
I was met at the airport by my brother Eddie and my mom, which was a nice surprise! We had dinner together before I took the train to Arnhem, where I could sleep in my own bed again!
On Friday I didn’t do much except read through all of the accumulated mail and some emails on my laptop.
That evening my dad wanted to put a Norton anti-virus program on my tablet, because I had tried it before and it didn’t work. We found out it wasn’t necessary at all, so the tablet is good. Then I also found out that Nancy, the CRD that wanted me to proofread her stories, did finally send them to me.
On Sunday the 5th of July, two days after the deadline and in the afternoon, when the last time I checked my email was that Sunday in the morning. As it was already late and time to go to bed, I didn’t read anything until Saturday morning. Really it was nothing, I don’t know why it took her so long to send me this, but I read it, changed some things and send it back to her. Still haven’t heard her comments about. Trying not to feel sorry, but she’s the one who was late in sending them to me anyway and she could’ve called me when she didn’t hear anything from me, so this is all on her!
Anyway, my dad had booked a weekend in a hotel in Venray, Limburg (province in the south of the Netherlands) for my birthday. It was only a half an hour drive there, so we didn’t have to leave really early. We arrived around noon and we could already dump our luggage in the room. It was a hotel outside of the city, so we took the car to get into the city and see Venray. We both had never been there before. It was a very hot day, so before we did anything else, we had a drink on a terrace, under a big umbrella. Then we went to the church to take a look at its statues that are said to be the oldest in our country and we climbed up the tower all the way to the bells. Afterwards we just walked around and I bought a book! Venray got hit pretty hard at the end of WW II, which means that there is not that much history left in the city. They managed to rebuild the church’s tower, but that’s about it, the rest is new.
After dinner we went back to the hotel.
Sunday we had a nice breakfast at the hotel, we had some coffee and around 11 am we went to see Kevelaer, which is about a 40 minute drive into Germany. It’s a town where people go for a pilgrimage. Someone had a vision of Mary saying that they needed to build a shrine for her, which they did and now most people know their way there to find her. There’s a little Candle-Church, which houses a lot of big candles and plaques from various religious groups that have paid a visit to this church. Then there’s a chapel, where we saw someone do penance by going around the chapel on his knees. And then there’s the big church, which is surprisingly colorful inside.
It has at least 3 organs from what we could see and every last bit of wall, pillar and ceiling seems painted. Doesn’t hurt the eye, but it is a nice contrast.
Then I scored a really nice backpack at a store there!! I was looking for one to bring my tablet and camera with me when I’m in Australia, having to bring it with me in my shoulderbag hurt my shoulder after a while, so this way I can put the weight on both shoulders! It is the right size, it has a separate compartment for my tablet and the zippers are covered in case it rains. The brand is a good one too, the lady said I could come back if something is wrong with it anytime!
Then I was kind of joking when I said I was missing a bookstore in this city, because I hadn’t seen any yet and not two steps later we’re standing in front of one! That was funny! I have bought a book in German about Australia, to brush up on my German! My HM is from Germany, so if I have any questions I can ask him!
We left around 5:30pm and just had a small thing to eat at the hotel, because we had pancakes for lunch in Kevelaer.
Monday was the last day in the hotel, we could check out around 5pm, but we didn’t want to stay in the hotel the whole day. So we checked out around 11am and we went to Roermond. It was another rainy day, but this time it really didn’t stop at all! We have never been to Roermond before and it didn’t look appealing, don’t know if that was the rain or the fact that most of the stores were empty. We went to the Outlet, which had all stores full and it was very busy, really don’t understand why, because it didn’t seem all that cheap to us. O well, my dad did manage to buy a nice pair of shoes there!
Then around 5pm we drove back to Arnhem where we got some take-out food, because we didn’t feel like cooking!
Then on Tuesday I went to Almere to see my mom and my rabbit of course! She still remembered who I was, it was good to see and hold her again!
I didn’t do all that much when I was there, just met with my family, cuddled with my rabbit and sat out in the garden enjoying the good weather! I also went to see my grandma for a while, which she liked very much.
Then Friday night Eddie and Caroline came for dinner to say goodbye.
And the Saturday rolled around quicker than I had wanted to of course!!
I went to Amsterdam by train around noon and I got there around 1 pm. Unpacked my suitcases, put everything back in its place and went back to work around 3pm….
That’s all folks!!!
24 juli 2015 04:26 | Door: Michelle
Hapy belated birthday! Sounds like you had a wonderful holiday. Your adventures in London reminded me of when I lived there - thanks for the memories! When are you off to Australia? Michelle xx
24 juli 2015 12:10 | Door: Paula
Man, you did a lot of walking! Glad you had a good time on your birthday. Sorry I totally forgot. Hell G asked me how old I was & I had no clue. Had to do the math. The girls miss you & ask when do they get to see you again. Love you - thanks for your stories.
27 juli 2015 16:12 | Door: linda
Glad you enjoyed my story about London, it is just one big history book, I love it!!
I want to go to Australia after this season at the end of this year. Still thinking about wether or not I should spend Christmas and New Year's Eve at home or in Australia, but I'm definately going!!
27 juli 2015 16:15 | Door: Linda
Yes I did do a lot of walking, it was great! Like I said it is one big history book, loved it!
Really you forgot how old you are?!?! O well, maybe that's a good thing, that way you don't keep track of all the years that have gone by!!
Miss you girls too! Who knows maybe we'll meet next year!